Pasteria is an Easter and Spring tradition in much of Italy. The traditional recipes use farro or wheatberries with the ricotta, while many of the newer recipes, especially in this country, use rice and pastry cream as the primary components. This particular recipe is a bit like a combination of rice pudding and a ricotta cheese cake and is adapted from a recipe by Mary Ann Esposito in Ciao Italia.
Serves 10 to 12
3 cups of all-purpose flour (substitute 1 cup of cake flour if it is available)
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, (1 1/2 sticks) very cold, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
ice water, you may need several tablespoons
1 additional egg, whisked for the top of the tart
2 tablespoons turbinado or raw sugar
1 cup of rice, arborio or long-grain white rice
3 cups of whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
1 pound ricotta cheese, well drained (fresh if available)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
freshly grated zest of 1 orange
sugar, 1/4 to 3/4 cup, to taste
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup Meyer’s dark rum
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (if you prefer you can substitute water for the rum and Grand Marnier)
To prepare the dough, mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour (if using), sugar and salt in a food processor or bowl. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse to blend in the food processor. You can also blend the flour and butter together in a bowl using a fork or a hand pastry blender. Add the egg yolks and continue to pulse the dough in the food processor (or blend and knead by hand) until the dough starts to come together. Add some ice water if necessary. You want the dough to be soft and homogenous, and not dry. Do not over mix or the dough will be tough. Gently form the dough into a ball or disk, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Butter and flour a 9” springform pan or a 10 1/2” 1 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.
To prepare the filling, bring 2 cups of milk to a boil and add the rice, sugar, butter, pinch of salt and the split vanilla bean. Reduce the heat and simmer until the milk is absorbed, stirring occasionally and the rice is soft but still has some texture, about 30-40 minutes (time will vary with different types of rice). Take the rice off of the hear, remove the vanilla bean and let cool.
While the rice is cooking, heat the Meyer’s dark rum and Grand Marnier (or water) until it is almost to a boil,add the raisins, remove from the heat. Let the raisins plump up and cool for about 30 minutes.
Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and mix until the texture becomes creamy. Add the 4 eggs, orange juice, orange zest and sugar. Mix until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. When the rice and raisins have cooled, drain the raisins and discard the rum (or don’t). Fold the rice and raisins into the ricotta mixture.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Divide the dough in half and roll out the first piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 14-inch circle. Place the dough into the prepared springform pan or tart shell. Using your fingers, tuck the dough into the bottom of the pan. Trim the edges so they are even with the top of the pan.
Fill the shell with the ricotta and rice filling. There may be some filling left over. You can bake this in small ramekins.
Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. Use these strips to form a lattice design across the top of the tart. Trim the ends of the strips to fit the tart and press them into the side of the tart shell to seal.
Brush the top of the tart with the whisked egg and sprinkle on the turbinado sugar.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the tart.
Let the tart cool to room temperature on a rack, run a very thin knife around the inside edge of the springform pan and gently remove the tart. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with a raspberry coulis or berry sauce.